white wine

3 affordable summer white wines

d’Alessandro Inzolia | Franciscan Estates Sauvignon Blanc | 

J Vineyards Pinot Gris

white wine under $15It’s June and the summer heat is about to create a shift in our wine drinking habits.  Big Reds by the fireside will be replaced by cool and refreshing whites by the poolside.  If your wine collection is like mine, you are in serious need of some white wines that entertain, and bring exceptional value…and so without further ado…

d’Alessandro 2009 Inzolia

Varietal: 100% Inzolia

Alcohol: 12%

Aging; 4 months stainless steel, 2 months bottle

If you’re like me you have a rather limited exposure to the Inzolia grape.  In fact this wine was my first experience.  Inzolia is one of the primary grapes used in the making of Marsala.  The grape is primarily found in Sicily.  This particular wine is light and crispy with a distinct almond like nuttiness to it.  I receive a lot of wines as free samples, and end up pouring a fair amount down the sink after a half bottle.  This wine, however, I enjoyed on back to back nights.  It’s just an easy to drink, light wine, with a little bit of complexity to make it interesting enough to keep for a second night, if you don’t drink the whole bottle.  The wine retails for around $18.    86 points

summer wine under $15Franciscan Estate 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

Varietal: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Alcohol: 13.5%

Wine making: 90% Tank fermented, 10% neutral oak fermented

Alcohol: 13.5%

Franciscan, like most Napa producers is probably more well known for its Cabernet, but relies to a certain extent on the quick turn-around of Sauvignon Blanc for cash flow.  However,  this doesn’t mean the wines are not quality.  The 2009 Franciscan Sauv Blanc is quite delicious, and there must be a fair amount of people that feel the same way because as of right now their website is temporarily sold out.  Not sure where they are going to find some more on the vineyard, but you should be able to track this wine down at most grocery stores. This wine was received as a sample.

The nose consists of citrus and sweet fig, and the palate is citrus driven, with a grapefruit and lime like crisp acidity.  The alcohol is nicely in check at 13.5% which is something to consider when sipping wine earlier in the day. 87 points

Summer wine under $15J Vineyards 2009 Pinot Gris, California

Varietal: 100% Pinot Gris

Alcohol: 14.3%

Production: 20,000 cases

Price: $15

This wine was my favorite of the three, and the only one I purchased.   The grapes for this wine come from several well known areas including Russian River and Monterey.  Non Malolactic and stainless steel fermentation gives this wine a nice crisp and refreshing acidity.  The wines from the different appellations are made separately and then blended at the end.  This allows the wine maker more control of the final taste.

As for the taste…once again citrus on the nose, maybe a little more ripe than most Pinot Gris, mandarin and honey.  However, the palate is crisp and slightly effervescent , which gives the wine a nice velvety mouth feel. 90 points

Wine Review: Bonterra Vineyards 2007 Viognier – Organic

Bonterra Organic Wine


Price: $10.99 at Costco

Where from? : 65% Mendocino County, 35% Lake County

Certified Organically Grown Grapes

Alcohol: 13.64%

Blend:  Viognier 81%, Marsanne 10%, Roussane 4% and Muscat 5%

Aging: 4 months in 30% new French Oak.

Crisp and fairly light.  The nose was not really that present, very slight honeysuckle is really all I could pick up.  On the palate the dominant flavor is green apple with a little bit of peach, a very little bit.  I don’t know why, but I was expecting something different.  I suppose it’s because one of my favorite wines d’Arenberg’s Laughing Magpie is a blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Viognier.  It must be quite a different Viognier because I can’t see how green apple would go with Shiraz?  I ended up not drinking much more than a glass of this wine on the first night.  It’s not the wine’s fault, I was having steak for dinner which calls for Cabernet.  But I did re-investigate Bonterra the next night while watching Olympic Hockey.  And actually I liked it a lot more.  I think I might have tried this one too close to the Grgich Hills Fume Blanc the day before.  As a stand alone wine it’s quite good.  Nice crisp green apple, virtually no oak, light.  Just a nice decent afternoon sipper.  With the added feel good bonus of having been made from Certified Organically Grown Grapes.  I would pick this up for summer parties as an alternative to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.